Low river levels on the Mississippi River are hampering barge movement, creating logistics problems for suppliers trying to re-stock fertilizer supplies for this fall, says Jennifer McCubbin of Cenex Harvest States. The Mississippi River at Memphis last week was only six feet above the record-level set in 1988. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects the river will fall to within two feet of the record unless significant rainfall falls soon in the lower Mississippi.
"The low level is impacting barge movement and this is making it very interesting for bringing fertilizer up," McCubbin told the recent Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit in Ames, Iowa. She said the low river flow has added two weeks to the time it takes to get a barge of fertilizer from New Orleans to St. Paul as authorities struggle to maintain the nine-foot channel needed by the barges. "It now takes more than two hours to move a tow through a lock," she stated. There are fewer barges in a tow and the barges may have up to 20% less product in them. "It's going to be very interesting to get pipelines refilled in time," she said.